Asmara is from Indore, working as a campaign manager, living in Kolkata for an assignment. She gets a much deserved short vacation. She has a lot of plans for spending the holiday with family and friends. Little did she know that destiny has other plans for her.
The journey by train gets extended by a couple of hours, but not before scaring the passengers for life. Does any good come out of it?
Read the story as it happened.
A tale of a long and tiring journey. A short read of finding unexpected love.
This is the first book in ‘Happily Ever After’ series.
This series consists of unrelated cute love stories and novellas that can be read standalone. This is for all the helplessly romantic souls who don’t mind reading about how love can be found in most unexpected circumstances.
Of course, these aren’t just a mushy love stories. These characters also have a bit of my cynic self.
The length of these novellas are generally around 20K words mark, and it makes for a quick one hour read.
The sun is blazing in all its glory. It is six o’clock in the evening. I narrow my eyes to see through the blinding sunlight, as I walk to the parking area for office cab. The cab feels like an oven pre-heated to 180 degrees. The twenty-five minutes ride to home feels much longer as I keep wiping the sweat off my face.
I reach home drenched in sweat. The hot and humid weather has got to me and I am having a pounding headache. I fear that my head will split at any moment. I bathe, wash my clothes and put it on the clothesline to dry. Now I feel much better.
I had to skip the lunch today as there was a meeting after two o’clock and I didn’t even have time to scratch my head, let alone grab a bite. And now I’m famished. I look at my phone to check for notifications. None. It is only seven thirty. I am sharing a one-bedroom apartment with a girl. Today it is her turn to cook and clean. There are no signs of her and I can’t starve to death. I cook plain rice and ate it with curd.
It is eight fifteen already. She has not reached home yet. I’m angry, as this has become a norm now. I hate it when people take me for granted. Okay. I admit I’m a little bit of pushover. I hesitate to confront. But that doesn’t give anybody any right to assume I’ll just keep up with it.
Arghh. I need to put an end to this. We need to hire a maid to do this. I mean an actual maid, not me acting as her maid and taking care of everything. Seething in anger, I start watching videos on YouTube to calm myself. It has little effect.
Around eight forty-five, my phone starts to vibrate and the video pauses. My mother is calling. I pick up the phone. I am not able to understand a thing she said. The voice is screechy and breaking. The handset at home is giving a hard time for a while now. I am already agitated; this adds fuel to my anxiety.
I’m travelling to my hometown for a short vacation tomorrow – three days off and a weekend. It will give me a much-needed break. Among other things, I add one more mental note for buying a new handset for home.
I need to start my day earlier than usual. I open the clock app to set the alarm. The app crashes. I clear the app cache and retry. I reboot the phone and retry. It still doesn’t work.
Tired and restless, I add a reminder instead; “GET UP” set for six thirty in the morning. At least some way my mobile will wake me up. I miss the good old days when we had alarm clocks. After a few minutes of breathing exercise, I start to pack.
My roommate comes home, eats the food that I have prepared, and gets busy with her phone. That’s usually what happens. I am trying to calm myself. I must get a maid once I am back from vacation. This reminder has no effect. Quit trying to kid yourself, Asmara!
Packing all done, headache resurfaces; it is time to do the dishes. It is a big ordeal because all the anxiety has caused me difficulty in breathing and back pain. The weather is getting warmer by the minute. By the time I finish dishes, I am perspiring from head to toe. I wash up and try to sleep. It’s is difficult to fall asleep when you’re angry.
Anyhow, somehow, around one in the morning, I fell asleep. I am uneasy through the night.
The reminder has failed to work. I get up around seven thirteen in the morning. I cook veg pulao and packed two tiffin boxes. The quantity is just right. I made sure that there is not a scrap of it left in the pan. I wash all the utensils, as I don’t want those to rot by the time I come back. My roommate isn’t going to clean.
Pretty much everything is pack. I take a quick shower, get ready and step out.
The roads near our apartment are dug up for construction. I can’t pull the trolley and therefore carry the heavy bag on the shoulder all the way to auto-stand. A good ten minutes’ walk with a heavy trolley bag – imagine my plight. I am sweating profusely as I plop myself in the cab. Two minutes after getting in the cab, I realize that I have not packed noise cancelling earplugs. Noise-cancelling headphones are a must for me. This is not good. By eight fifteen, I am at my desk, all set for work.
I’m a twenty-four years old girl from Indore. In my quest to be independent, I looked for a job soon after finishing college. I work as an advertising campaign manager. My job is in Mumbai. Occasionally I travel to other cities for projects. This time, I’m assigned to a project in Howrah branch. This temporary relocation means having to put up with a reclusive, self-absorbed roommate. Sigh.
Initially, when I joined here, I used to wonder why they would bring somebody from Mumbai for one small project. Now I realize.
The team here is incompetent. They are all locals, and a lot older than me, and it makes it even more difficult for me to communicate with them.
They want everything to be done by others and just hog the credit. If a manager steals the credit, it is understandable. Managers generally get a slice of your hard work. But over here, everybody is just the same.
People don’t finish their assignments on time and then it all comes to me at the last minute. Today is no different. I’m a little miffed with the frequent deadline misses by a colleague. I need to speak to my manager.
“Saurabh. Bindu is supposed to have finished one presentation and she has not.”
“Is it? I’m sure she has reasons. Let’s go to the meeting room and discuss it.”
Sourabh, my boss, always has a solution – the meeting room. He perhaps thinks that meeting room will magically fix the issue at hand. I don’t like it, so I try to protest.
“I don’t want to discuss it. You can talk to her. I need to make sure this work doesn’t come to me at the eleventh hour.”
Inside the meeting room, my boss opens the conversation.
“Asmara has something to discuss.”
What the hell? Why is he putting me on the spot?
“I don’t have anything to discuss. I observed that the presentation which was due yesterday; is still not ready. I’m leaving for a three days’ vacation. Once I come back, I need the presentation along with artworks for submitting to the project manager on the client side.”
“Yeah. It is not done yet. I ran into some problems.”
Bindu replies with an apologetic smile on her face. She is faking it. She isn’t apologetic.
Yeah. I’m not buying that shit. I snorted mentally. I don’t express it, obviously. Instead, I calmly suggest.
“Let’s talk about the problems and sort those out.”
“Umm… I haven’t been able to work on it. Something else came up.”
“Sourabh, is she working on any other assignment?”
I turn towards the manager, who is looking helpless. Helpless that her work-daughter is being investigated for her lack of work ethics and incompetence. And he can’t help. Yes, work-daughter, like a work-spouse, get it?
“I’m not able to focus. My daughter is sick.”
Pat comes the third excuse. And Saurabh is all sympathetic.
“Oh, no. What happened?”
I get the game. I can tell a lame excuse from a genuine impediment. She’s lying. What’s worse, the manager is supporting her. There is nothing I can do about it. And then the manager announces his bright idea to deal with the situation.
“Let’s give her a few more days to finish. By that time, you will also be back.”
Great idea, boss. She’ll have a vacation at work itself while you deduct three days from my leave balance. I wanted to shout. But that’s not going to help. Instead, I curved my lips. Yes. I do that when I don’t want to smile but I’m expected to. I curve the corners of my lips and stretch the lower lip. It gives an illusion of a smile.
That is 10% of the books and it is all I can share. You can buy the book here.